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Art and Medicine at EODIAH

Bonnie Pitman, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, UT Dallas

EODIAH’s Art and Medicine programs continue to flourish. Bonnie Pitman, who launched Art and Medicine at The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at UT Dallas, has been busy this Spring lecturing at UT Dallas, teaching her Art of Examination course through UT Southwestern, and advancing her research at the Center for Brain Health.

UT Dallas Lectures

In March, Pitman gave a lecture “The Art of Healing: New Approaches for Physicians and Patients” as part of the UT Dallas Arts and Humanities Symbiosis: Where Science Meets Art lecture series. Symbiosis is a UT Dallas campus group whose focus on the intersection between art and science aims to incorporate art education into science-focused degree programs. Pitman’s talk discussed artists with illnesses, nuances of observation, and EODIAH’s Art and Medicine programs that focus on close observation of works of art as used by medical schools to improve diagnostic practices with patients.

This Spring, Pitman gave a talk to UT Dallas undergraduate and graduate students in Professor Greg Metz’s Gallery Studies course at the new S/PN Gallery that focused on her research called the Power of Observation and her tenure as Executive Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Additionally, Pitman conducted two gallery tours this term for EODIAH art historians and guests at the Dallas Museum of Art, examining its collection through the lens of Art and Medicine and the Power of Observation.

Bonnie Pitman leads EODIAH scholars in Art and Medicine tour at the Dallas Museum of Art

Baylor Surgery Physicians & Residents retreat


On April 17, Pitman hosted 55 Baylor University Medical Center surgery physicians and residents, along with their instructors, at the Dallas Museum of Art for an all-day retreat in Art and Medicine.  Students were immersed in the museum’s galleries to receive training on close-looking, learning new skills on how to talk about art, relate to art, and relate to one another as well as completing team exercises focused on developing new communication and observation skills.

Baylor medical students engage in observational activities in the Dallas Museum of Art galleries


Art of Examination 

Finishing its fourth year, UT Southwestern’s preclinical elective The Art of Examination will see 32 new medical students having gained instruction on using the power of art to enhance their observation, communication, and empathy skills.

Bonnie Pitman leads the course with faculty partners Heather Wickless, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, UTSW; Courtney Crothers, UTSW Art Curator; and Dallas Museum of Art educators Lindsay O’Connor and Amy Copeland.

This term’s sessions included Artists as Patients/Healing and the Arts, Mindfulness and Burnout, Visual Investigation with Art: The Human Form, Empathy and Compassion held at the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, The Warehouse, The Crow Collection of Asian Art, UT Southwestern Medical Campus, and a special visit to a private collector’s home.

In each class, students gain new perspectives enhanced by interactive exercises that address topics including conservation, artists with disease, empathy, physician burnout, and cultural influences.

Art of Examination students at the Dallas Museum of Art

Bonnie Pitman lectures at the Brain Performance Institute, Center for Brain Health, UT Dallas

Center for Brain Health

As the Director of Art – Brain Innovations at the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, Bonnie Pitman continues to expand her research and teaching on the art of observation relative to neuroscience. She held sessions for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers that provided strategies to improve brain performance around her initiatives Do Something New®, her daily practice of focus and celebration of making an ordinary day extraordinary while dealing with chronic illness, and the Power of Observation, an initiative that connects neurological research with the experience and process of seeing, looking and observing.  The Power of Observation was also the focus on her lecture in the “Sips and Science” series at the Brain Performance Institute, in which she explored how deeper stages of observation allow for greater concentration and attending in life. Drawing on works of art in the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection, Pitman’s programs at the Center for Brain Health develop skills for attending, connecting, analyzing, interpreting and creating, engaging participants in learning about art history. She will further these subjects by developing workshops this fall.